RUTLAND, Vt. – With 4:43 remaining in overtime, Hannah Rose's shot flew just inside the far post to secure the Spartans' spot in the ECAC East Semifinals with a 2-1 victory over the Southern Maine Huskies at Spartan Arena.
Castleton outshot the opposition 32-22, but was held scoreless for 69:52 before scoring the winner in extra time. With the victory, the squad improves to 13-11-2 on the season and will play at Norwich in the semifinals. Southern Maine, meanwhile, finishes the season with an 8-15-3 record in the losing effort.
The Spartans wasted little time in the contest to find the back of the net, as Brianna Keats scored her eighth goal of the season just 5:25 into the opening frame to give the hosts an early one-goal lead. After Lisa Kilroy's attempt was pushed aside, Keats collected the rebound in the crease and slipped it past the Huskies' Nia Kelly to make it 1-0 in favor of the hosts.
Less than four minutes into the second period, Julia Pearl grabbed her eighth goal of the year to bring the game back to level terms. On a power play opportunity, a Southern Maine player fired a shot that Castleton's Paula Stephens saved, but after a scrum ensued in front of the net, Pearl was able to knock home the loose puck near the far post to even the game at one.
Just past the midway point in the frame, Kilroy had a golden chance to reclaim the Spartan lead, but Kelly, somehow, managed to hold her position in front of the near post and make the save to keep the score even.
Kelly was at it again with less than five minutes remaining in the second, as she made a spectacular save to deny Keats her second goal of the contest. After a Huskie turnover, Kilroy skated around the back of the net and slipped a backhand pass to Keats in the crease, but Kelly made a post-to-post save to reject the effort and preserve the 1-1 tie.
The best chance of the third period came when Kelly skated into the crease to knock a puck from danger and her clearance pass was intercepted by Rose, but the freshman forward's shot deflected off the goalie's pads and was cleared from the offensive end.
Castleton cleared off the majority of a two-minute penalty in the final minutes of third frame, as both teams were held scoreless to maintain the 1-1 tie and force extra time.
In overtime, Hannah Wright made a pair of critical poke checks on one-on-one opportunities to deny two Southern Maine scoring opportunities and keep Castleton's chances of advancing alive, and with 4:43 remaining in the extra frame, Rose netted her third goal of the year to capture the win. Anna Daniels and Molly Howard provided the service on the play, as Rose received the puck in the crease and slotted it just inside the far post so secure the 2-1 victory.
In net, Stephens turned in a quality performance for the Spartans, stopping 21 of the 22 shots that she faced and shutting out the Huskies for the final 42:12 to pick up her eighth win of the year. Kelly was arguably just as good, producing 30 saves with just two goals allowed in the losing effort.